Campaigns in general disclose internal polling only when they believe it shows good news for their candidates. This weekend, two contenders for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District did just that, publicly sharing two distinctly different sets of numbers.
According to the summary of a poll released late Saturday by the campaign of former news anchor Kathleen Matthews, she is running a close second to state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin, with wine retailer David Trone a distant third.
The Trone campaign released its own, more favorable summary on Sunday. It shows that since entering the race in late January, the previously unknown Potomac businessman, who has saturated local TV and radio with ads that have cost an estimated $3.5 million of his own money, is within striking distance of Raskin, with Matthews in third.
Neither campaign was willing to provide any underlying details about the surveys, such as support for particular candidates broken down by gender, race or other voter subgroups.
Their decisions to disclose any data at all shows that with six weeks until the April 26 primary, the campaigns are feeling pressure to show that momentum is theirs.
The survey of 402 likely Democratic primary voters conducted March 7 to 9 by Matthews’s polling firm, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, shows Raskin leading Matthews 31 percent to 28 percent. Trone stands at 13 percent, according to the poll.
Matthews released the data to bolster her claim that she has gained significant ground since November, when the Raskin campaign released its own survey, which showed the lawmaker with a 30-21 lead over Matthews.
“With six weeks remaining until April 26th, our survey shows that voters are responding to Kathleen’s message of being a strong and effective progressive voice for 8th CD women and families,” campaign manager Ethan Susseles said in an email.
There is still potential for significant shifts in the race. Much of the support for the top three remains tentative. The Matthews poll notes that more than half of likely primary voters remain “persuadable.”
Trone adviser Andrew Friedson scoffed at the Matthews survey. He said a survey of 401 likely primary voters, conducted between Feb. 29 and March 2 by pollster Harrison Hickman, shows Raskin at 30 percent, Trone at 25 and Matthews at 21.
“We’re confident that the more voters get to know about David, the better he will do, and that he will take the lead,” Friedson said.
For the moment, at least, the six other candidates in the Democratic field lag far behind in low single digits, the Matthews survey shows. The one mild surprise is former biotech executive Dan Bolling (4 percent), who entered the race just before the Feb. 3 filing deadline and who marshalled support similar to contenders who have been running for close to a year: Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (3 percent), Del. Kumar Barve (2 percent), former White House aide Will Jawando (2 percent), nonprofit executive David Anderson (2 percent) and former State Department official Joel Rubin (2 percent). Thirteen percent said they were undecided.
The Trone poll shows similar results, Friedson said.
Raskin campaign manager Marshall Cohen declined to share additional polling. He said in an email statement that the despite the heavy spending by Trone, as well as television and radio advertising by Matthews, Raskin is still in the lead.
“Jamie’s campaign is still in first place in our opponents’ polls when we haven’t spent a penny on TV or radio yet,” the statement said. “This is what a grass-roots campaign looks like. It may seem old-fashioned, but Jamie and hundreds of volunteers are still engaging many thousands of people in face-to face conversation about his record of effective progressive leadership on everything from the assault weapons ban to climate change.”
The Matthews campaign said its poll has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points. The sample was drawn from active registered Democrats who voted in the 2012 or 2014 primaries, or who had registered since 2014. The Trone campaign said its survey has a margin of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points and has a similar methodology.